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#1344843 - 01/09/10 02:42 PM Do children progress faster than late starters
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1165
I sometimes wonder if it's true when they say "I shoulda done it when I was six.

Some kids are able to play Chopin, Mendelsohn etc - I remember my nephew playing all the variations to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star when he was about six, and concertos when he was about ten - and here I am plodding along after almost nine years. It sometimes gets to me - I do enjoy learning to play and all that it entails.

Just every once in a while it gets me thinking. Talk about a late start, I was 60. Thanks for reading this post. smile

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#1344853 - 01/09/10 02:55 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: musdan]
djmsalem Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/06/10
Posts: 3
I'm thinking the same thing, although nine years behind you, ready for my first lesson at 57, struggling to figure out what piano to buy and whether I'll have the fortitude and patience to stick with it until I can play anything even minimally satisfying.

For you and me both, I hope it's never too late.


Edited by djmsalem (01/09/10 02:55 PM)

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#1344977 - 01/09/10 05:17 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: djmsalem]
Rachel J Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 325
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
I think it's never too late to start! You have to be in it for the journey and the process more than the results or you will never be happy, though, no matter how advanced you get.

In my experience as a teacher, adults learn the early concepts much faster than very young children, but as time goes on, the adults slow down in their progress as the children pick up speed. But, as I said, always enjoy the learning process, and judge your success by whether you feel more skilled than you did one year ago or longer. If there is progress year by year, you are doing great. I've had students give up out of frustration, but I always thought they were doing very well. Don't be hard on yourself. smile
_________________________
Rachel Jimenez Piano teacher in Brooklyn, NY / Author of Fundamental Keys method
My professional website: FundamentalKeys.com
Latest blog post: "A marvelous pianist and mentor"

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#1344999 - 01/09/10 05:36 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: musdan]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5523
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: musdan
I sometimes wonder if it's true when they say "I shoulda done it when I was six.

Some kids are able to play Chopin, Mendelsohn etc - I remember my nephew playing all the variations to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star when he was about six, and concertos when he was about ten


I guess you have never seen kids who are still in method books after five years of piano lessons, can't memorize "Twinkle Twinkle" for a recital, and quit piano by fourth grade.

I hate to make generalizations, because for every example, you can find ten counterexamples. There's an old adage about, if you work hard enough, you can succeed in anything. Too bad it only holds true 37.25% of the time. wink
_________________________
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#1345591 - 01/10/10 10:35 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: AZNpiano]
musdan Offline
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Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1165
Thanks for your good advice.

Rachel, there have been times when I've said "enough already", learning to play has been a dream of mine and there is so much to learn. I would love to sit down at the piano and just play whatever is in front of me. My father was an accompianist and he made it look so easy.

AZN you are right - guess for every kid that can play Chopin there are many as you say are "still in method books---"

Dj - enjoy the journey - ups and downs comes with the territory - we're in it together.

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#1345606 - 01/10/10 11:13 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: musdan]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13804
Loc: Iowa City, IA
If only those who could improvise a souflee were allowed to cook, the world would die of starvation.

If only those who could handle Chopin were allowed to play, the result would be very similar.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1345617 - 01/10/10 11:34 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Kreisler]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Yes they progress faster but not further - that takes an adult sensibility and a well studied one at that.
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#1345638 - 01/10/10 12:02 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I don't think the question really matters at all because anyone and everyone should be able to have the opportunity to begin where they are when they discover they might like to get started.

One of the biggest things I cope with in teaching adults is how many doubts surface about adult abilities and progress from within. I would love to meet and teach adults who could just enter, buckle down to the work and let time and their effort show them who they really are musically and let them answer their own questions about things like this.

Reality is the only response that can be made because each of us is on our own path to musicianship. Just because I started playing at 9 and have been teaching piano for 39 years and have accomplished a lot musically doesn't give me an advantage over any one else. I am still on the path to discovering things I haven't learned yet in music. Music continues to evolve in the world and that is a catalyst all by itself. That is why, to me, these questions don't much matter very much. It's the being on the path and doing your thing that is the victory. It doesn't need to be graded or examined, it just is...where you are in the present moment in relationship to your desire to be musical.

It's all based on the individual's capacity and follow through at whatever age he approaches it. To me, there is no advantage to getting started at 3 or 4 years old on the piano. Music activities can be very enjoyable for young children, but it is not the same piano specific education you will get, understand and use when you are older and more cognizant of what being a "learn-ed" musician is all about.

When the work load hits in music making and you stretch and rise to the occasion, that's where you realize that the question of when "should" I have started gets answered. That to me would be something like "you started just at the opportune time for you". If you've put your piano time faithfully to good use, you'll hear yourself saying positive things about your musical self. That's the thumb's up/high 5 celebration of all that you've been through.

So the only thing that matters in my opinion is that you got started when you did and that you finally (all that time and effort) have arrived.

Betty

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#1345660 - 01/10/10 12:23 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: musdan]
melancholicmelody Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 4
Loc: Dallas,TX
Originally Posted By: musdan
I sometimes wonder if it's true when they say "I shoulda done it when I was six.

Some kids are able to play Chopin, Mendelsohn etc - I remember my nephew playing all the variations to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star when he was about six, and concertos when he was about ten - and here I am plodding along after almost nine years. It sometimes gets to me - I do enjoy learning to play and all that it entails.

Just every once in a while it gets me thinking. Talk about a late start, I was 60. Thanks for reading this post. smile


Well being old does not mean that you are slower than the younger ones in catching up in lessons. It is always up to you, the one who wants to learn, if you really want to learn. Just enjoy. Feel the music and let your mind do the rhythm of everything.
_________________________
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#1346385 - 01/11/10 12:29 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Betty Patnude]
pianonewb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/09
Posts: 221
Loc: No. Va.
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
I don't think the question really matters at all because anyone and everyone should be able to have the opportunity to begin where they are when they discover they might like to get started.

One of the biggest things I cope with in teaching adults is how many doubts surface about adult abilities and progress from within. I would love to meet and teach adults who could just enter, buckle down to the work and let time and their effort show them who they really are musically and let them answer their own questions about things like this.

Reality is the only response that can be made because each of us is on our own path to musicianship. Just because I started playing at 9 and have been teaching piano for 39 years and have accomplished a lot musically doesn't give me an advantage over any one else. I am still on the path to discovering things I haven't learned yet in music. Music continues to evolve in the world and that is a catalyst all by itself. That is why, to me, these questions don't much matter very much. It's the being on the path and doing your thing that is the victory. It doesn't need to be graded or examined, it just is...where you are in the present moment in relationship to your desire to be musical.

It's all based on the individual's capacity and follow through at whatever age he approaches it. To me, there is no advantage to getting started at 3 or 4 years old on the piano. Music activities can be very enjoyable for young children, but it is not the same piano specific education you will get, understand and use when you are older and more cognizant of what being a "learn-ed" musician is all about.

When the work load hits in music making and you stretch and rise to the occasion, that's where you realize that the question of when "should" I have started gets answered. That to me would be something like "you started just at the opportune time for you". If you've put your piano time faithfully to good use, you'll hear yourself saying positive things about your musical self. That's the thumb's up/high 5 celebration of all that you've been through.

So the only thing that matters in my opinion is that you got started when you did and that you finally (all that time and effort) have arrived.

Betty

Betty, you just expressed something I've been feeling but couldn't put into words.
I'm 46 years old, and have only been playing 9 months. I never questioned whether or not I could learn, nor how far I could go. A lot of that might result from being a musician for 20+ years already(guitar), I do not know. I do know, however, that I have the one thing many of those very young children don't. A single-minded, all-consuming focus to learn to play this thing we call piano. I absolutely love it! I believe I can go exactly as far as I want to. No limits except those I place on myself, and I don't plan on placing any. Life's too short.
_________________________
Mike
Casio Privia PX 120

The only thing nescessary for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing.


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#1346490 - 01/11/10 06:45 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Kreisler]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3229
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
If only those who could improvise a souflee were allowed to cook, the world would die of starvation.

If only those who could handle Chopin were allowed to play, the result would be very similar.


Great comment. With piano, we do seem to have that sentiment though.

I have stumbled through many a church service playing, knowing there were several listeners at levels far more advanced. But they were souffle makers, and the job needed a short order cook with more nerve than skill.
_________________________
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#1346502 - 01/11/10 07:33 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: pianonewb]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Originally Posted By: pianonewb
I do know, however, that I have the one thing many of those very young children don't. A single-minded, all-consuming focus to learn to play this thing we call piano.
If you knew children you would know that their advantage is 'a single-minded, all-consuming focus', period. Their 'all-consuming focus' is not burdened with 'to learn'. Just watch a child at play. If your enthusiasm can get that back you'd be well on your way. With adults though, it's that very enthusiasm that gets in the way.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1346509 - 01/11/10 08:01 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Rachel J]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Rachel, I've been thinking about this for days and hesitated in replying - for one thing fearing I'd end up with another treatise in trying to articulate thoughts.
Quote:

In my experience as a teacher, adults learn the early concepts much faster than very young children, but as time goes on, the adults slow down in their progress as the children pick up speed.

I've highlighted "concepts". It does not make sense to me that adults should slow down and kids speed up like that. Something else must be going on. I'm trying to formulate a thought. When my son returned from his first year university, they were all doing the most elementary beginner things (strings) - a straight even bow stroke and fingers landing perfectly on each note in slow practice. First of all, this is what beginners do: the point (beginner) where your adults shine because they get the concepts. But secondly, this is a straight, naked direct experience of the senses interacting with the instrument: what a child does. But that direct experience is the building block for the advanced musician. To go further, he has to draw on the elementary things, which is why these advanced musicians had to do this.

What if the adults catch concepts, but don't enter "direct experience" mode? What if that catches up to them later on? When music gets complex, and when the technical challenges are greater, you can no longer conceptualize. It's too much to hold in the head and picture. What if the nature of doing has to change, and it is not a matter of limitations?

I had an experience with two language students while I was an adult music student. I taught them separately. There was a point of grammar with declensions which had to be understood, since the language functioned differently than English, and also used. The father understood the concept and went hog wild with it. They both had to memorized 9 case endings: 3 each for masc, fem, neutral. The father "couldn't" memorized them because he got in his own way - it was too simple. He tried to "understand" the endings (they make no sense: they just are). He worked hard, creating complex exercises to master them. He could not accept that it was that simple and direct: write 9 endings on a card, glance at them a few times every day. I recognized myself at some stage as a music student and so saw what was happening. He had to accept that it was simple. It is very hard to accept that it is simple. (!!!!) Don't think about it. There is nothing to understand. Do.

The next part may also link to music. This student's goal was to speak freely in a foreign language for business. He had to master vocabulary and also grammar and use them: like performing music and not just understanding it. Because he did not have those 9 endings "at the tip of his tongue", he could not formulate a simple sentence like "The man sees the apple" because he could not put the right ending on "man" and "apple" even though he understood the concept. The daughter had simply done as she was told without worrying about whether it would work so she had the endings. The result was just as you describe: father was ahead of daughter in the beginning and then fell far behind. Once he did the simple and direct thing, the endings were his within a few days, after months of being stuck.

There is still another thing that I could relate to as an adult student. He didn't realize that he had now mastered the endings and could use them. I caught on, because in the next lesson he looked in the air like you do when you recall something rather than trying to glance at a piece of paper. In a perverse way, we might not accept that we have acquired a skill in a simple manner and that we actually have it, because we need to "understand" and work hard. It can't be real. Something like that.

I don't doubt that you are observing these things with your students, Rachel. But if it's because of what we do rather than how we are through being adults, maybe that can give something? This idea of conceptualizing getting in the way of music is something I'd heard before, which is why I caught on to it. Is this a possibility?

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#1346512 - 01/11/10 08:04 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
If you knew children you would know that their advantage is 'a single-minded, all-consuming focus', period. Their 'all-consuming focus' is not burdened with 'to learn'. Just watch a child at play. If your enthusiasm can get that back you'd be well on your way. With adults though, it's that very enthusiasm that gets in the way.

Is this another side of a similar coin? We posted at the same time.

Kbk, when I began lessons I was purely curious about everything. I advanced in droves. Later I thought I should start get serious and be a "real student". That's when it started to fall apart. I had thought the playful curiosity was frivolous but it wasn't.

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#1346527 - 01/11/10 08:32 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
pianonewb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/09
Posts: 221
Loc: No. Va.
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
[quote=pianonewb] If you knew children you would know that their advantage is 'a single-minded, all-consuming focus', period. Their 'all-consuming focus' is not burdened with 'to learn'. Just watch a child at play. If your enthusiasm can get that back you'd be well on your way. With adults though, it's that very enthusiasm that gets in the way.

I am not a teacher of young children, but I do know that this sounds wrong. As an example, I started a lot of things late in life. One of them, for example, was martial arts(Tae Kwon Do). As a result of my late start(I began in my late 30's)I studied alongside a lot of very young (9-12 y.o.)kids. There were some adults, but a great many children. Even those that were highly enthusiastic about Tae Kwon Do could not maintain focus long enough to get through a lesson without going off on a tangent and having to be reigned in by their instructor. Their attention span just wasn't sufficient for that. The slightest things shifted their focus.`They are very enthusiastic about everything they like, but in my (admittedly limited) experience, they find it difficult to maintain such enthusiasm. Instead, it gets shifted to the next most fascinating thing that comes their way. My experience, but the children I know are not known for their focus.
_________________________
Mike
Casio Privia PX 120

The only thing nescessary for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing.


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#1346528 - 01/11/10 08:32 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keystring]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Originally Posted By: keystring
What if the adults catch concepts, but don't enter "direct experience" mode?
This is what I'm saying. It's a can't-have-your-cake-and-eat-it kinda thing.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#1346531 - 01/11/10 08:37 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: pianonewb]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Originally Posted By: pianonewb
My experience, but the children I know are not known for their focus.
You confuse maintenance of focus for depth.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1346535 - 01/11/10 08:43 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
pianonewb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/09
Posts: 221
Loc: No. Va.
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: pianonewb
My experience, but the children I know are not known for their focus.
You confuse maintenance of focus for depth.

No, i simply refuse to get into esoteric or ethereal philosophical discussion. Unfocussed focus is not focus(kind of an ironic statement considering that first sentence, eh? ;)). We can dance around semantics all day, but at the end of the day, to learn something you must knuckle down and actually " do the work". My opinion.
_________________________
Mike
Casio Privia PX 120

The only thing nescessary for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing.


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#1346536 - 01/11/10 08:44 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: pianonewb]
keyboardklutz Offline
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There are levels of paying attention.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1346539 - 01/11/10 08:46 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
pianonewb Offline
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Registered: 05/01/09
Posts: 221
Loc: No. Va.
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
There are levels of paying attention.


Exactly.
_________________________
Mike
Casio Privia PX 120

The only thing nescessary for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing.


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#1346541 - 01/11/10 08:49 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: pianonewb]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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You can pay attention with just your mind, or your whole being. Children learn in the zone.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1346546 - 01/11/10 09:03 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
"Children" is a broad term: in the case of children learning to walk, or to talk, it is AMAZING how focussed they are at acquiring the new skill, and how undiscouraged they are when they do not immediately succeed. Adults are often terribly easily discouraged when working on acquiring new skills, and while they may have the ability to focus on a task at hand, they don't have the deep commitment to gaining skills that very young children do have.

Children also may seem to lack focus, but that is generally because they are not focussing on what someone else wants them to focus on. They are great at being focussed on what interests them. As a teacher I've often found that a child might seem to be off on a tangent, but when I take the time to figure out their train of thought I discover just how seriously they are working on an idea, skill or issue.


Edited by Elissa Milne (01/11/10 09:04 AM)
_________________________
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#1346548 - 01/11/10 09:10 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Elissa Milne]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Hey, welcome to PW Elissa! You're real smart, do stick around.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1346554 - 01/11/10 09:19 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Thanks keyboardklutz (goodness, I feel really impolite calling you that!) for your welcome!
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1346556 - 01/11/10 09:28 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Elissa Milne]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Just read some of your blog. Not just a pretty face then?
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1346579 - 01/11/10 10:01 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Elissa Milne]
Nguyen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 430
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
"Children" is a broad term: in the case of children learning to walk, or to talk, it is AMAZING how focussed they are at acquiring the new skill, and how undiscouraged they are when they do not immediately succeed. Adults are often terribly easily discouraged when working on acquiring new skills, and while they may have the ability to focus on a task at hand, they don't have the deep commitment to gaining skills that very young children do have.

Children also may seem to lack focus, but that is generally because they are not focussing on what someone else wants them to focus on. They are great at being focussed on what interests them. As a teacher I've often found that a child might seem to be off on a tangent, but when I take the time to figure out their train of thought I discover just how seriously they are working on an idea, skill or issue.

Don’t we have brilliant minds here? Welcome Elissa and thanks for sharing.
_________________________
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#1346649 - 01/11/10 11:49 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Elissa Milne]
pianonewb Offline
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Registered: 05/01/09
Posts: 221
Loc: No. Va.
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne

Children also may seem to lack focus, but that is generally because they are not focussing on what someone else wants them to focus on. They are great at being focussed on what interests them.

That's kinda my point. In a great many instances, they did not choose, their parents did. While you may be able to get them focused for the short time you are teaching them, there are repeated posts by teachers here expressing frustration at not being able to get them to continue that focus at home. The adult beginner chooses for him/herself to learn. I believe that is a distinct advantage.
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
children learn "in the zone".

Perhaps, but it would be very presumptuous to assume that I or any other adult beginner do not or cannot do so as well.
_________________________
Mike
Casio Privia PX 120

The only thing nescessary for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing.


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#1346654 - 01/11/10 11:53 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Hi Elissa,

I am celebrating being able to welcome you to the forum as you have not only something very worthwhile to say but you do it with humor too. I've read all 5 of your to date posts today and your website and I'm excited to think that things are picking up in the Piano Teacher's Forum! Welcome!

Betty

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#1346668 - 01/11/10 12:04 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: pianonewb]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianonewb
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
children learn "in the zone".

Perhaps, but it would be very presumptuous to assume that I or any other adult beginner do not or cannot do so as well.
Try it. Children are not miniature adults, they often go where angels can't tread. (or am I being presumptuous?)
Quote:
Poem lyrics of The Rainbow by William Wordsworth.

My heart leaps up when I behold
A Rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!

The Child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be

Bound each to each by natural piety.
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#1346693 - 01/11/10 12:18 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
Kreisler Offline


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Children benefit from having their brains wired for learning in a way that adults do not.

Adults can benefit from experience, but I have come across adults who do not have much experience and/or don't know how to learn from it.

The biggest hurdle for adults is coordination/movement. They tend to try to solve problems with their brains, thinking that if you know how to do something, you will be able.

Children, especially younger ones, are less likely to ask "how." You show them something, they try it, fail, and try again. They're used to working out coordination by themselves, whether it be holding a fork, opening a door, or figuring out a video game controller.

If you take a kid into Best Buy and lead them to the video game demo, they'll walk up to it and start playing, even though they have no idea what the controls do. Hand an adult the same controller, and they'll ask "so what do the buttons do?"

Find an adult who's comfortable diving in and playing the game, and you'll have somebody who will make remarkable progress at the piano, because they won't wait to be told "how" all the time.

I've always wanted to design an experiment where you take 10 adults with desk jobs and 10 construction workers, physical/occupational therapists, hair stylists, gardeners/florists, or surgeons and teach them all to play the piano. I have a theory that the people whose jobs require solving problems with their hands will do much better than people who type and talk for a living.

(I could be totally wrong, but it'd be a great experiment!)
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#1346705 - 01/11/10 12:31 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
pianonewb Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Try it. Children are not miniature adults, they often go where angels can't tread. (or am I being presumptuous?)

Yes, you are being presumptuous in assuming I have not already "tried it", or that I don't make it part of my learning approach.
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#1346710 - 01/11/10 12:35 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Kreisler]
TimR Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Children benefit from having their brains wired for learning in a way that adults do not.

Adults can benefit from experience, but I have come across adults who do not have much experience and/or don't know how to learn from it.



I think so too, and moreover I find it comforting.

I'm a slow learner because I'm an adult, not because I'm inherently untalented or unsuited to the task. I know if I keep plugging away I'll continute to make slow progress.

The adult who expects he can learn as quickly and easily as a child is the one who gives up when he finds out differently.

I don't think there's really any doubt, adults learn music and languages more slowly than children, but at least some adults can reach impressive levels of performance at both.

The question I would have is whether this implies a different approach is needed. If adult learning uses different mechanisms rather than being a slow version of the same process, which seems likely, then the optimal teaching strategy for an adult is probably substantially different.
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#1346718 - 01/11/10 12:50 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: TimR]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: TimR

The question I would have is whether this implies a different approach is needed. If adult learning uses different mechanisms rather than being a slow version of the same process, which seems likely, then the optimal teaching strategy for an adult is probably substantially different.
Exactly. And how many beginner classroom teachers do you think I've seen trying to address mini-adults? It's a rare individual who, as Wordsworth says, can bind 'each [day] to each by natural piety.'
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#1346751 - 01/11/10 01:14 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: TimR]
Kreisler Offline


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Originally Posted By: TimR
The question I would have is whether this implies a different approach is needed. If adult learning uses different mechanisms rather than being a slow version of the same process, which seems likely, then the optimal teaching strategy for an adult is probably substantially different.


Of course, and every adult method I know of is quite a bit different from kids' methods. There have been a ton of presentations on the subject of teaching adults at the major conferences, and it's something that continues to be discussed and studied in pedagogical circles.

That being said, one of the main problems is that since adults have such a wide range of prior experience and ability (much more so than children), it is extremely difficult to come up with anything specific regarding adult instruction that works for a large number of people.

Also, it may be better to ask some of these questions in our Adult Beginners' Forum. You'll get a lot more information from people who've "been there, done that."
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#1346761 - 01/11/10 01:18 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Kreisler]
TimR Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Kreisler


Of course, and every adult method I know of is quite a bit different from kids' methods. There have been a ton of presentations on the subject of teaching adults at the major conferences, and it's something that continues to be discussed and studied in pedagogical circles.



I've just read the Gieseking book as well as Music by Heart by Lillian Somebodyorother (we adults have a terrible time with memory) and I can't imagine a young child getting much out of the concepts or the structured memory approach both those teachers use.
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#1346764 - 01/11/10 01:22 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: TimR]
keyboardklutz Offline
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You get a six or seven year old and show them something (a passage for instance) once (knowing what you're doing) and you won't need to show them again. That ability kinda disappears around seven.
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#1346773 - 01/11/10 01:32 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: musdan]
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Originally Posted By: musdan
I sometimes wonder if it's true when they say "I shoulda done it when I was six.

Some kids are able to play Chopin, Mendelsohn etc - I remember my nephew playing all the variations to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star when he was about six, and concertos when he was about ten - and here I am plodding along after almost nine years. It sometimes gets to me - I do enjoy learning to play and all that it entails.

Just every once in a while it gets me thinking. Talk about a late start, I was 60. Thanks for reading this post. smile


A lot of people are down on the usefulness of Hanon...however, it's a Godsend for late starters. I started at 16 after some time playing guitar. Without Hanon, I don't think I'd be working on what's in my sig.
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#1346781 - 01/11/10 01:37 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
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I'm not a teacher but I am in a situation where my son and I both take lessons. He's 8 and has been studying for a few years now. I find that for him , 40 minutes of regular practice everyday keeps him moving along well. That's not nearly enough for me as an adult late starter.

I know every situation is different but this is how it is (unfortunately!) in my home.

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#1346840 - 01/11/10 02:59 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Elissa Milne]
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Elissa, it was a pleasure to read your words this morning as a student.

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#1346906 - 01/11/10 04:14 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keystring]
mooshinator Offline
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Hi guys, I am an adult beginner and just wanted to throw this idea out there...

The universe of adult beginners is self-selective; it is pretty much a given that all adult beginners are very motivated to learn the piano.

The universe of child beginners is much less self-selective; some children will really learn to love the piano and others will hate it and fight it the whole way.

This may explain why there are plenty of children who fizzle out and never get anywhere learning the piano while at the same time allowing for the fact that those children who end up really loving the piano will progress faster than an adult beginner, on average, due to an inherent learning advantage.

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#1346913 - 01/11/10 04:21 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: mooshinator]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: mooshinator
The universe of adult beginners is self-selective; it is pretty much a given that all adult beginners are very motivated to learn the piano.
And dare I reiterate, it is that very motivation that can get in the way. Children don't know why they play the piano. In fact, they have no need of a reason. (I am trying to help)
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#1346920 - 01/11/10 04:24 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
mooshinator Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: mooshinator
The universe of adult beginners is self-selective; it is pretty much a given that all adult beginners are very motivated to learn the piano.
And dare I reiterate, it is that very motivation that can get in the way. Children don't know why they play the piano. In fact, they have no need of a reason. (I am trying to help)


Perhaps I am using the wrong term; it might have been better to say that the universe of adult beginners consists entirely of people who are *interested* in learning the piano, whereas the universe of child beginners consists of a large number of kids who really have no interest.

I am not trying to refute your point at all; in fact, your point could very explain the achievement difference between interested adults and interested children. smile

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#1346923 - 01/11/10 04:26 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: mooshinator]
keyboardklutz Offline
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I am being awkward! But maybe if someone told you to practice the piano, and you did what you're told, you wouldn't need to be *interested*.
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#1346975 - 01/11/10 05:22 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nguyen Offline
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I think we miss the point somewhere along the way. If an adult and a child are both interested, motivated, have the same drive; we (adults) have no chance catching them (children).

If you compare a disinterested, unmotivated child to an eager, motivated, hard-working adult, well, there shouldn’t be any comparison in the first place.

So let’s compare 2 equally motivated and interested students.

The child has all the advantages: a brand new, fresh, empty, undisturbed mind and a lot of free time (besides school, home works, video games or games, there aren’t anything else they have to do).

For us, with a strong drive, focus, motivated and hard working ethic, well, we would still lag behind because there are so many other life commitments that our brains/minds are occupied with.

Gotta pay those bills. Kids done home work yet? Did their half hour piano already? Ahh, darn it, have to get these laundry done tonight & tomorrow night. Work sucks today. Gotta see that game (Patriots vs Ravens) this weekend. This darn oil heater isn’t right, gotta convert go natural gas – yeah save energy, go Green. Mom & Dad coming over this weekend, what's for dinner? Hmmm… floor is dirty, maybe I’ll clean it tomorrow night or this weekend. Visiting your parents this weekend honey? The list is endless if everyone fills in theirs.

Having said all that, I think if we focus and do our best, we will see astounding results. Can we learn at the same rate our young counterparts do and get to advanced level? If we are rich, have nothing to worry but practice, I would like to say “YES”. Otherwise, I doubt it. Can we learn and play pieces we aspire to play one day? I hope so because the teachers here seem to be very optimistic.
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#1346995 - 01/11/10 05:37 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Nguyen]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Stop wanting it!
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#1347025 - 01/11/10 06:05 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
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No. It's not a case of wanting or not wanting. Just do.

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#1347052 - 01/11/10 06:39 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keystring]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Want is a word that fascinates me. 200 years ago it was a noun and meant 'a lack of'. Today it ostensibly means 'a need of' but in reality oscillates between the two.
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#1347072 - 01/11/10 06:53 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
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Emphasis is on "do".

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#1347077 - 01/11/10 06:57 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keystring]
Nguyen Offline
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You two make me laugh. LOL.
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#1347087 - 01/11/10 07:05 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Nguyen]
4evrBeginR Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nguyen
I think we miss the point somewhere along the way. If an adult and a child are both interested, motivated, have the same drive; we (adults) have no chance catching them (children).

If you compare a disinterested, unmotivated child to an eager, motivated, hard-working adult, well, there shouldn’t be any comparison in the first place.

So let’s compare 2 equally motivated and interested students.

The child has all the advantages: a brand new, fresh, empty, undisturbed mind and a lot of free time (besides school, home works, video games or games, there aren’t anything else they have to do).

For us, with a strong drive, focus, motivated and hard working ethic, well, we would still lag behind because there are so many other life commitments that our brains/minds are occupied with.

Gotta pay those bills. Kids done home work yet? Did their half hour piano already? Ahh, darn it, have to get these laundry done tonight & tomorrow night. Work sucks today. Gotta see that game (Patriots vs Ravens) this weekend. This darn oil heater isn’t right, gotta convert go natural gas – yeah save energy, go Green. Mom & Dad coming over this weekend, what's for dinner? Hmmm… floor is dirty, maybe I’ll clean it tomorrow night or this weekend. Visiting your parents this weekend honey? The list is endless if everyone fills in theirs.

Having said all that, I think if we focus and do our best, we will see astounding results. Can we learn at the same rate our young counterparts do and get to advanced level? If we are rich, have nothing to worry but practice, I would like to say “YES”. Otherwise, I doubt it. Can we learn and play pieces we aspire to play one day? I hope so because the teachers here seem to be very optimistic.


+1. Totally agree.

Just because "old" folks can't run the mile in under 4 minutes doesn't mean we should give up exercise.
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#1347336 - 01/12/10 12:22 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: 4evrBeginR]
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For differences between how adults learn and how children and infants learn, the book "The Scientist in the Crib" by Dr. Alison Gopnik and her colleagues is interesting. It's not specifically about music, but it does show how a child's capacity to learn is expansive because it has not been channelled to finite possibilities by experience.
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#1347368 - 01/12/10 01:54 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: MomOfBeginners]
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Originally Posted By: MomOfBeginners
For differences between how adults learn and how children and infants learn, the book "The Scientist in the Crib" by Dr. Alison Gopnik and her colleagues is interesting. It's not specifically about music, but it does show how a child's capacity to learn is expansive because it has not been channelled to finite possibilities by experience.

How fortunate that one can choose infinite possibilities as well. smile

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#1347377 - 01/12/10 02:41 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keystring]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Language acquisition is an excellent example. By the age of 9 months a child's brain has hard wired to 'filter out' non-indigenous language sounds. The infinite variety of language is no longer there - traded in instead for facility.
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#1347701 - 01/12/10 01:35 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]
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Semantics non-withstanding, I found that approaching piano lessons as a child would has helped me a great deal. I nearly completely delegate the teaching act to the teacher and try to comply with most of what he says without second guessing or asserting that x or y does not work well for "me"..I ask questions but I actually avoid arguments. I feel that the lesson time is better used for other things. I do not necessarily admit everything he says as truth but I educate myself by reading and occasionally asking for clarification. I completly accept that piano teaching and learning is imperfect and benefits from a long tradition that has clearly worked for many, but that necessarily includes a substantial amount of dogma which may or not withstand thorough scientific testing.
Obviously the main underpinning of such a relationship is trust. I did select my teacher very carefully and only after engaging in lessons on a 6 week trial (per his request) did I commit completely.
It is not ideal but it has worked for me. I expressed my goals clearly in the beginning and then let him take charge. I will admit that this is is not very typical for me as I tend to be in a professional position where decison making is a constant order-of-the-day and my personality make-up is such that I inquire relentlessly and I trust the scientific method to approach most situations, emotional life excluded. So engaging in piano lessons in this manner was novel to me but I sensed that if I were to be more involved and "consulted" prior to every assignment, things would not evlove properly or speedily.
Granted this approach is not for everyone and sometimes I disagree strongly with some of his approach but overall it works well. I am advancing quickly enough and I enjoy not having to worry about lesson planning and discussions. I also always try his recommendations "blindly" before I decide that there could be a diferent or better way and I accept things like "that's how we do it" as a reasonable explanation !! smile Some of my friends find such compliance on my part to be completely shocking!! So do I.. But it workd for me..

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#1347713 - 01/12/10 01:49 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: TimR]
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At whatever age you are, it seems to me that what you put into roughly corresponds to what you'll get out of it.

When I first started my lessons, I was obsessed with "what can I do to maximize my learning rate." Later, I relaxed that view to "let's just 'enjoy' the journey."

Doesn't matter if adults learn faster or slower than me. Doesn't matter if kids learn faster or slower than me. Nothing I can do about either anyway...

I'll just continue on 'my' journey, however fast or slow that might be. smile

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#1348206 - 01/12/10 11:54 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Akira]
musdan Offline
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Originally Posted By: Akira
At whatever age you are, it seems to me that what you put into roughly corresponds to what you'll get out of it.

When I first started my lessons, I was obsessed with "what can I do to maximize my learning rate." Later, I relaxed that view to "let's just 'enjoy' the journey."

Doesn't matter if adults learn faster or slower than me. Doesn't matter if kids learn faster or slower than me. Nothing I can do about either anyway...

I'll just continue on 'my' journey, however fast or slow that
might be. smile


Akira, I will try to follow your good advice - thanks everyone for all your helpful posts.

I've read each of your posts and have learned so much. Thanks for being there. smile

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#1348681 - 01/13/10 03:18 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Andromaque]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Andromaque
I nearly completely delegate the teaching act to the teacher and try to comply with most of what he says without second guessing or asserting that x or y does not work well for "me"..I ask questions but I actually avoid arguments.
I think that's the whole point of a guru. Sadly, not really a western thing.
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#1349121 - 01/14/10 12:56 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: TimR]
DadAgain Offline
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[quote=TimR.... But they were souffle makers, and the job needed a short order cook with more nerve than skill. [/quote]

I'm going to stretch this analogy too far...

My daughter (age 5) has been much praised and marvelled over as a Soulfle maker of the future (just aced AMEB Gr1 Piano )... However, following a few weeks off for xmas, she's not so keen to get back into it and I suspect may throw away her souffle skills in favour of something COMPLETELY different, carpentry perhaps?

As an ADULT learner you have the advantage. You can SEE the long term goal and know that 5 or 6 years of study isnt necessarily that long to gain a GREAT skill.

As a 5 yr old spending 5 years learning to do anything is beyond comprehension - so if it doesnt come easily. Its too easy to be distracted and find something else to try.
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#1349124 - 01/14/10 12:59 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: DadAgain]
Elissa Milne Offline
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AGED 5, and she has already sat Grade 1 AMEB?????????

When did she start, for goodness sake?
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#1349144 - 01/14/10 01:51 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: DadAgain]
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Originally Posted By: DadAgain

As a 5 yr old spending 5 years learning to do anything is beyond comprehension - so if it doesnt come easily. Its too easy to be distracted and find something else to try.
That's why children need to do as they're told. Again, not a very western thing.
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#1349152 - 01/14/10 02:14 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: DadAgain]
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Originally Posted By: DadAgain

My daughter (age 5) ... However, following a few weeks off for xmas, she's not so keen to get back into it ...

I just looked back. Last August your daughter was in group lessons, and she was way ahead of the other kids. At this point she began one-on-one with her teacher, who put her into an advanced version of the exam (silver instead of bronze) which she aced. She was polishing off a piece in a matter of 3 days, and her learning was in imitation of you, and memorizing. There was talk of having her skip an entire grade, advancing straight into grade 3. Also, her teacher said that he did not know what to do with a gifted student such as your daughter, and he was following your advice, or something like that.

Might any of these things give a clue on your daughter having lost her enthusiasm?

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#1349167 - 01/14/10 02:54 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Elissa Milne]
Crow Wing Offline
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In grade school I would listen to adults talk about children and their traits (our traits at the time), making generalizations about who we were, and it always struck me as false. We were all so different, and they didn't see that. Even how they prefaced their remarks to us, "Now children, ....", as if we were this homogeneous group that only became unique individuals as adults. We were as different from each other then as we are now in later life. Larry in the desk next me was a mean, sneaky kid, who was lazy, and Mona was bright and always had her homework done, but she wouldn't help you with yours, and Tom was chatty and friendly and did things quick and without much concern about quality of results, and so forth. As adults, Larry killed a man and went to the state penitentiary, and Mona teaches chemistry, and the last I heard Tom was selling insurance, but I've lost track of many. We knew the personalities of each other as children far more than our teachers knew us, because we had to interact with each other at a very personal level, while teachers and principals and Mrs. Boff the neighborhood babysitter only had to train us and control us and make sure we didn't get hit by cars. They didn't know us and we knew it. I would hear similar things back then about how we were all this or all that, but we weren't all anything. Some of us were dullards and some were driven and curious. I know there are children who are brilliant. I see some of them playing Chopin on YouTube and knew another who taught himself the behavior of rats and could catch them by throwing a towel over them when they leaped at him after he cornered them in the basement, thus clearing out the various rented houses he lived in with his mother and siblings. I'm wary of theories that have as their underpinning the sameness of children.

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#1349185 - 01/14/10 05:19 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Crow Wing]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Any piano teacher will agree that each child is thoroughly unique. No doubt about that. What works for one student might not be at all useful for another.

AND YET - children are all human, so there's a good commonality. And there are things that we do know about the way that children as a set are different from adults as a set. This means that we can be more knowledgeable about the kinds of strategies that might motivate, inspire or stimulate a child to spend time learning to play the piano. And about what motivates, inspires and stimulates adults to progress in their chosen field of learning also.

Most of the things that I've heard adults say about children during my (so far) 40ish years of life have either been reductive or wrong. But that's not to say that you can't say some useful things about children, such as - children's brained are wired to learn certain things better than adults.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1349215 - 01/14/10 08:06 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Elissa Milne]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11764
Loc: Canada
It is quite discouraging. frown

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#1349390 - 01/14/10 01:11 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Elissa Milne]
Crow Wing Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/09
Posts: 34
I agree with everything in your post. When you study people by sets - age, gender, education, ethnicity, whatever - there will be traits associated with the sets. As you point out, and I agree with completely, it can be useful to apply the knowledge of the traits associated with age sets to teaching strategies. I intended to make the point that grouping people by personality sets will also yield traits associated with the set (I'm using this term loosely. The word personality probably has a specific meaning in the social sciences). I believe the learning traits associated with that grouping are stronger than the traits associated with age sets. My belief is based on my experience in giving technical training to adults, which was a subset of a job I once had. I wasn't a full-time educator. I attended a week-long seminar and took a short course on training adults, so I became familiar at a surface level with the theories at that time on learning strategies. When I conducted the actual training, however, I observed that how the class participants learned - and how I had to tailor the class - had more to do with who they were (education, personality, work ethic, etc.) than with their age. People who were very analytical outside the classroom learned differently than the students who just wanted to learn the practical facts and weren't concerned with why. I believe what I'll coin a personality set would have the same people in the set over time, based on my experience that most of the people I've known since childhood don't have altered personalities as they move from one age set to another. So in a nutshell, I agree there are age-set traits, and it's useful to understand them. There are other sets people can be placed in for analysis, and it is also useful to understand those traits, but it's more difficult since while there is no disputing that a 9-year old is part of the under-10 age set, it's highly subjective as to which learning personality set the child would belong. I think the learning traits associated with age set are weaker than those associated with personality. (Once again, personality is probably the wrong word).

The topic of this thread is very broad. I agree with many of the ideas. I was reacting to a few posts with sweeping statements about "children learn this way..." I think the diversities within an age set are stronger than the commonalities.

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#1349582 - 01/14/10 04:34 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Crow Wing]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
For those teachers who teach completely by a method without incorporating their own evaluation, skills and tools and ideas into the music lessons, the decisions of what to teach, the organization of when to teach it, and how to teach it has been done by the creators of the music publication being used.

Does this in any way limit piano learning?

Does a piano teacher acting on his/her own to meet the special learning needs of the child, additional materials being supplied, more remedy, more accelleration, whatever is deemed important by the teacher add a great bit to the lesson?

Does the teacher who is confident and somewhat well read in many of the components of early music education, including brain development, motor skills, writing teaching concept plans and organizing them to the program being created for each student by the teacher have the advantage?

Or, is a complete music teacher's education, combining pedagogy, theory, technique performance, music appreciation, music history and every little related part that enhances music education the very best resource of anyone starting piano lessons.

What kind of teacher qualifications get students where they are going best?

Does their progress, young or late, really have more to do with the skill sets and perspective of the teacher they have chosen then it has to do with the natural talent and continuing interest of the student.

How do teachers prepare for the random, abstract, concrete, sequential needs of any one student? Isn't the ability to choose the appropriate lesson style of the present moment an important consideration to meet the needs that the learner has. We can talk all day and miss the mark it it's not said in the students language.

Isn't this where progress is possible? With he rest of prescribed lessons (generic) being limiting toward success because they do not teach specifically to anyone. So many master teachers from the classical era taught lessons more than once a week to the same student, and they wrote their own materials with a specific student in mind.

What really counts?

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#1349653 - 01/14/10 05:52 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Elissa Milne]
DadAgain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/09
Posts: 365
Loc: Brisbane, QLD
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
AGED 5, and she has already sat Grade 1 AMEB?????????
When did she start, for goodness sake?


4.5 - For six months she was obsessed with Piano and just sucked in everything thrown at her.... So we threw Gr 1 at her and she came out with a "Grade A" result...

But like I say - right *now* she's more interested in other things (mathematics seems to have her attention right now, but tomorrow it may be fine art, the day after perhaps languages? - she's destined to be an all-rounder dabbles at everything!)

Theres nothing wrong with that - she's young enough to have a go at all sorts of things and see what she really loves. If it turns out to be Piano thats fine - if it doesnt thats also fine.


Edited by DadAgain (01/14/10 05:59 PM)
_________________________
Parent....
Orchestral Viola player (stictly amateur)....
Hack Pianist.... (faded skills from glory days 20 yrs ago)
Vague Guitar & Bass player.... (former minor income stream 15 yrs ago)
Former conductor... (been a long time since I was set loose with a magic wand!)

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#1350099 - 01/15/10 01:35 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: DadAgain]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
That's certainly the age to get 'em if you can. Well done on the A grade.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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